Putting yourself forward for election is always a daunting process – and there’s nothing more daunting than throwing yourself in to the Lion’s den that is internal elections within your own party. It’s one thing running against candidates you are comfortable debating in the knowledge that you are representing different communities, ideologies, or politics. It’s quite another running alongside your colleagues and peers, in an organisation you’re all members of because you (by and large) agree on the priority issues we must solve to make the world a better place, and the approach that must be taken to tackle them.
Running for female co-convenor in this years Scottish Green Party internal elections was a decision I thought long and hard about – and certainly didn’t take lightly. Recognising that our party is in many ways a new party following our post referendum surge of around 8000 members since last September, and that the voice of our membership is the most important one, it is obvious that a direct way for members to use that voice is through our internal democracy procedures.
Having openly contest positions, is a great thing for democracy – it opens up a space for dialogue and participation that wouldn’t otherwise be there. Since first announcing I was running for co-convenor I have been firm in my positive approach to my bid – running ‘for‘ the position, rather than running against Maggie. Competition in a party like ours, that has been run by a small group of (wonderful, dedicated) people for a very long time, can take a bit of getting used to – and will undoubtedly have teething problems. What’s very apparent is that although it might have been uncomfortable for some in the campaign ‘bubble’ as it were, this election has been held in a very constructive spirit. It feels really energising and it’s an excellent sign of where we’ve got to as a party. It shows Scottish Greens are comfortable doing politics differently and holding a constructive debate. We can be a breath of fresh air compared to the stale kind of politics which is all too often alienating for women and young people in particular.
When out and about meeting with members over the past few weeks, the message I heard more than once was that it ‘feels like we’re a real party.’ We are indeed a real party – not only do we have real ambition to elect a least one Green MSP to Holyrood in every region next year, and more Councillors than ever before in 2017 – we also have a real opportunity to succeed.
I’m chuffed that members, supporters and the public have had opportunity to hear from female voices of the party, and that Maggie and I have both been very visible and vocal during this campaign – this is something we must keep up regardless of the result! It has brought a vibrancy to our politics that a diverse representation of voices brings. Patrick (Harvie – in case you were wondering) is a strong and consistent public voice of Scottish Greens, who is regarded, and connects outstandingly well with the public – but he is only one man, and one voice. Our collective and diverse voices are far more powerful, and have more reach than any one persons voice.
As we head for Holyrood, now is the time to ensure each of our lead candidates and other spokespeople for the party build their profiles, and have the platforms they need to get our message out, and get votes in – to secure the seats we need to push for the change that’s needed.
We all joined the Scottish Green Party for a reason – my reasons stem from experiencing the failures of structural inequality, and connecting with a passion to ensure a different future for others – across Scotland and the world. Each of us have our own journey to the party, and through the party. Democracy, equality and the environment are core ties that bind us – stronger than any differences that inevitably exists in any human organisation or political party.
Regardless of the result of the co-convenor contest, and all other contested internal positions, I look forward to working with all of our members, and people and communities across Scotland to secure a future that this generation and the ones that come after us can believe in.
Our communities and planet are counting on us – our time in definitely now.